If you’ve decided to take control of your finances, you may be wondering how to get started and what you’d like to do first. If that sounds like where you are in your life, first of all congratulations! Deciding to take control of your finances is one of the smartest financial decisions you can make. Gaining control of your finances is the first step towards achieving the financial life you have always wanted.
decide to start
Deciding to actually start is probably the most important step, so if you’re already there you’re one step ahead of many others. Sharing your journey with others can be an important next step. You don’t have to tell the whole world all the details about your financial situation, but it’s not worth just keeping it all in your mind. Remember that goals that are not written down are just wishes. So write down your decision and share it with a trusted friend or family member.
After you’ve decided to start your finances together, you’ll want to know where you stand. One way to do this is to take a look at your credit report to see what information lenders are looking for about you. You Can Get Your Free Credit Score Using Mint for Free, and You’re Eligible for It Too Get a free credit report Once every twelve months from the three main credit issuers. Review your credit report carefully and be sure to challenge any mistakes or inaccuracies in your report.
Make a Plan (and a Budget)
Once you’ve written down your decision to start putting your finances together, it’s time to come up with a plan. Looking at your credit report can give you an idea of your current debt and your expenses. Write down all your monthly expenses and your monthly income.
Capturing your total income and expenses is the first step in this direction. budgeting, Depending on your history with money, you may have a negative association with the word budget, but it’s important to remember that a budget is just a tool. A budget can help you stop spending money on things that are not important to you, so that you still have money to spend on items that are important to you.
cut your expenses
Again, you’ll want to make sure your budget is written down and tracked. If you try to keep it all in your head, you are only setting yourself up for failure. A tool like Mint can help you track your budget because it interfaces directly with your bank and credit card accounts. That way you can see all your spending in one place, categorize it, and see how you’re tracking according to your budget.
Once you’ve budgeted for a few months, you’ll start to see some trends in where you spend your money. Decide which items in your spending are aligning with your core values, and ruthlessly cut out the things that aren’t. Use any extra money every month set up an emergency fund And get out of debt,
increase your income
Another thing to consider is that cutting your expenses is only half of your living in budget. While many budget guides talk about eliminating that daily coffee purchase or unused gym membership, that’s only one side of the story. There’s only so much you can do to cut your budget, while theoretically at least, you have the potential for unlimited income. start a side hustle Or sell unused household items as a way to increase your income and gain control of your finances.
It’s a Marathon – Not a Sprint
Finally, remember that financial health is a marathon, not a sprint. Depending on where you’re starting out, it’s likely you won’t completely eliminate your debt In a month or even a year. This will take time and so it is important to remember that even in the beginning. And not all months will be the same – there will be days, weeks, and months where you slip up and don’t make optimal financial choices. This is another reason why it can be useful to write down and track your progress. It gives you some history and context to know that if you have bad financial days, you have many good days too. Give yourself some grace and remember that tomorrow is another day.
Deciding to get your finances together is one of the best financial decisions you can make. Being on a good financial foundation can give you peace of mind and help you lead a stable life. Decide to start, write it down and share it with trusted friends and family. Gather your monthly income and expenses and start a budget.
Sharing your decisions, journey and progress helps keep you accountable, even when the inevitable slip up happens. When you slip up and make a bad financial decision, the most important thing you can do is accept that it happened and resolve to do better tomorrow. One day at a time will lead you to financial freedom.
dan miller (91 posts)
Editor is a freelance writer and founder of PointsWithACrew.com, a site that helps families travel for free/cheap. His home base is in Cincinnati, but he tries to travel the world as much as possible with his wife and 6 children.